Saturday, September 5, 2009

To Fast or Not To Fast? That is the Question by John

That was a question that I was asked yesterday. Two weeks ago Friday marked the start of Ramadan for Muslims around the world. Last year right after Ramadan, Inusah made his decision to become a follower of Christ. This will be the first Ramadan that he faces not being a Muslim.

Since that time, Inusah has been baptized, helped at times with visitation, attends weekly Bibles studies, and has been abandoned by his family. They have not officially called a family meeting and removed him from the family, but they have refused to help him in anyway.

This last few months Inusah has seen that he will have to fend for himself if he plans on getting ahead in life. He has always dreamed of being in the military, but without monetary help from his family, it will be difficult for him to pay the application fees. So, Inusah has gotten a job.

As an American reading those words, that does not sound like a very big deal, but here, it is another matter. Currently, we have about 50% un-employment in Ghana. That means that all employers know that they can get labour cheaply, and that they can have their labourers work many hours, because if the person does not like the arrangement, there will be others that will come in time and fill the gap.

The job that Inusah has gotten is at a lumber mill. He starts work at 5:00 in the morning and works for 12 hours, with a 1 hour lunch break. He gets paid weekly, and receives 3 Ghana Cedis a day, which is about 2 dollars.

I have been very impressed with Inusah and this decision. It would be much easier for him to just yield to his step-father's will, and then ask him for the money. But, he has decided to obey the Lord and take the hard road. Most people in Kumasi will not take these jobs. They say that it is too much work for too little pay.

Back to Ramadan- as I was saying, this is Inusah's first time as a Christian. For those readers that do not know what Ramadan is, it is the Muslim holy month in which all Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset. This month is supposed to teach them how it feels to be a poor person, and also is believed to have power to forgive all the sins of the year before. Ramadan is a central part of Muslim life. Even Muslims that do not live like Muslims at all the rest of the year, fast for Ramadan.

For Inusah this was a big question. He asked if he could fast, but just do it for the Lord Jesus Christ? I told him that the Bible says that we cannot let our good be evil spoken of. If he fasted, even in the name of Jesus, his family and friends that are Muslims would just see it as a Muslim act, not a Christian act. Then he asked me how he should act. To this I told him that he was blessed by having a job. He would leave before dawn, so even as a Muslim he would be able to eat, and when he was at work, he could freely eat. I mainly warned him that he did not need to cause strife with his new found liberty. He did not need to break the fast in his family's presence, that would not be a spirit of love. The Bible commands us to deal in peace with all men. He needed to be a testimony, but in such a way that it would praise Christ.

Please pray for Inusah. Though he wants to do right, it is very difficult. He is the most independent African that I have met. This helps him, but it also makes it difficult for him to open up about his problems. Pray that he will be able to stand as a Christian during this Ramadan time. Pray that he will follow the Lord and continue to grow closer to Him. Please pray that the group of believers will be able to embrace him as his new family and help to strengthen and encourage him.

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